The full transcript of Fiji Prime Minster Frank Bainimarama's speech to the United Nations is here. It is worth reading in full. Apparently the Herald journalist who parroted Winston Peters' criticisms of it did not read the speech. As a result he missed the real story - more of that shortly.
Where there should have been careful reasoned analysis from The Herald, we were served up the frothings of our vapid Foreign Minister who, without offering a shred of evidence for his claims, pretty much accused Bainimarama of lying to the UN and of intending to gerrymander the next election. Peters apparently has recourse to the PM's innermost thoughts and aspirations The only feeble excuse he could offer for these outrageous accusations was the notion that because the Fijian PM did not repeat the already clearly signaled target election date of 2009, that somehow he was misleading the UN.
The real story of this speech is the dramatic changes which are being proposed for Fiji's constitution and for it's electoral system.
Clearly Bainiamarama is out to break the back of the odious Council of Chiefs which has dominated Fijian political life and provided the structural and tacit support for the corruption which has been endemic for so long. Neither Peters nor the Herald took the slightest bit of notice. One person one vote is to be introduced. The manner of introduction is instructive, particularly when compared with the current manner of introduction adopted by NZ Labour and its lap dog cohorts for their appalling electoral Finance Bill which effectively alters the constitutional landscape of New Zealand.
The Fijian Prime Minister has issued a discussion paper which is widely circulated and he proposes a referendum to obtain a mandate for the changes sought. In the democratic paradise of New Zealand, Clark and Peters are engaged in a sordid act of political thuggery aimed at ramming through without consultation, repugnant legislation which has been trashed by all commentators and then some.
Anyone who has read the Fiji constitution and who understands some of Fiji's recent history would marvel that all the changes necessary to introduce, for the first time ever, genuine democracy to Fiji might be put in place in two short years, along with a genuine census which also is necessary. Bainimarama is actually dismantling Fiji's own version of apartheid and is being vilified for it by the very people who should be applauding and helping.
How much better might it have been for New Zealand's interests if only our idiot Foreign Minister could have congratulated Commodore Bainimarama for his speech and welcomed the dramatic constitutional changes. But no. Instead of measured intelligent comment, every time Peters opens his mouth he demonstrates to all Pacific Island nations that New Zealand is only a friend if they do as Wellington dictates.
Its what's known as being a backyard bully.